‘I didn’t want the mother to die in front of her daughter’
Most members who get AFT training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation will never have the chance to use it, but that turned out not to be the case for Robin Herrin, a special education paraprofessional who saved a woman’s life on New Year’s Eve.
She was ringing in the new year with her husband and sister-in-law at a nearby resort casino when, after dinner, she heard a woman cry out for help because her wheelchair-bound mother had slumped over and stopped breathing.
“I didn’t want the mother to die in front of her daughter,” says Herrin, a member of Red River United in Shreveport, La.
Herrin had taken CPR training at the AFT several years ago. She ran over to find the older woman without a pulse or breath. As she’d practiced in AFT training, Herrin stated that she knew how to do CPR, asked a bystander to call 911, and told another bystander to bring the hotel’s defibrillator.
It seemed like just a few breaths and a couple of rounds of compressions before paramedics arrived. By the time they did, the woman had started breathing again.
“I was a little bit shaken up,” she says, “but I was glad I was able to help.”
Herrin joins the ranks of AFT members who have become everyday heroes through their safety training. She is quick to credit the AFT trainers who helped her gain confidence. With years of experience as a para at Sun City Elementary School in Bossier, Herrin was used to directing children, not adults.
She also credits her local union president, Jackie Lansdale, for being a role model in acting courageously. Lansdale tosses the compliment right back. “The fact that she stepped up to save a woman’s life is just something that Robin would do,” Lansdale says. “I am proud to have her in our union.”
Herrin hadn’t known anything about unions until she went to a meeting about five years ago and thought, “I might like this.” Well, she sure did like it. She became a building rep at her school, helps organize PSRP conferences and has traveled to the state capital to stand up for education.
Before her union work kicked in, Herrin had been super active in Mardi Gras, planning balls and riding on floats.
“I gave up some of those real fun things so that I could do something that was still fun but more worthwhile,” she says, adding that she wants to leave a legacy for students: “I want things to be better.”
You could say for a fact that Robin Herrin already has made things better.